July 28, 2006

Evolution of Consciousness

m alan kazlev's the quote by Sri Aurobindo on evolution that includes that reference that I mentioned, as well as a wider description of evolution in general. He is referring here to the "outward aspects" of evolution as opposed to spiritual evolution:
"...In its outward aspects this is what the theory of evolution comes to, -- there is in the scale of terrestrial existence a development of forms, of bodies, a progressively complex and competent organisation of Matter, of Life in Matter, of Consciousness in living Matter; in this scale, the better organised the form, the more it is capable of housing a better organised, a more complex and capable, a more developed or evolved Life and Consciousness. Once the evolutionary hypothesis is put forward and the facts supporting it are marshalled, this aspect of the terrestrial existence becomes so striking as to appear indisputable. The precise machinery by which this is done or the exact genealogy or chronological succession of types of being is a secondary, though in itself an interesting and important question; the development of one form of life out of a precedent less evolved form, natural selection, the struggle for life, the survival of acquired characteristics may or may not be accepted, but the fact of a successive creation with a developing plan in it is the one conclusion which is of primary consequence. Another self-evident conclusion is that there is a graduated necessary succession in the evolution, first the evolution of Matter, next the evolution of Life in Matter, then the evolution of Mind in living Matter, and in this last stage an animal evolution followed by a human evolution. " From The Life Divine, p.836 of the 10th edition (1977), Sri Aurobindo Ashram Trust, Pondicherry.
Note the strong parallels with Teilhard de Chardin. Obviously, Sri Aurobindo is more interested in the broad sweep of cosmic evolution than in details of the process, and he does indicate elsewhere in the chapter that other factors that purely physical may have been or were involved. My reason for critiquing Wilber so strongly on evolution is that Wilber specifically denies (or denied, i guess he has changed his mind now!) any sort of Darwinian physical process; Sri Aurobindo refers to Darwinian factors as part of the "machinery" by which biological evolution occurs, without specifically admitting or denying that this is exactly how it did work happened.
Sri Aurobindo is more interested in the transformation from man to superman (supramental being) than in the details of physical processes that are not actually relevant to this transformation. So obviously he is not an intellectual theorist-of-everything like Wilber, and that gives him the luxury to focus on his own specific message and teaching without having to incorporate all the knowledge of the entire world (which would be impossible anyway). Rather, Sri Aurobindo is an integral teacher in that he teaches the integral transformation of the entire being (see e.g. Synthesis of Yoga and Letters on Yoga) 12:19 AM

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